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Predicting early signs of dyslexia at a preliterate age by combining behavioral assessment with structural MRI

: Kraft, Indra; Schreiber, Jan; Cafiero, Riccardo; Metere, Riccardo; Schaadt, Gesa; Brauer, Jens; Neef, Nicole E.; Müller, Bent; Kirsten, Holger; Boltze, Johannes; Friederici, Angela D.; Skeide, Michael A.


NeuroImage 143 (2016), pp.378-386
ISSN: 1053-8119
ISSN: 1095-9572
Journal Article
Fraunhofer IZI ()
Fraunhofer EMB ()
arcuate fascicle; cortical thickness; developmental dyslexia; diffusion-weighted imaging; quantitative T1; reading

Background: Recent studies suggest that neurobiological anomalies are already detectable in pre-school children with a family history of developmental dyslexia (DD). However, there is a lack of longitudinal studies showing a direct link between those differences at a preliterate age and the subsequent literacy difficulties seen in school. It is also not clear whether the prediction of DD in pre-school children can be significantly improved when considering neurobiological predictors, compared to models based on behavioral literacy precursors only.
Methods: We recruited 53 pre-reading children either with (N=25) or without a family risk of DD (N=28). Quantitative T1 MNI data and literacy precursor abilities were assessed at kindergarten age. A subsample of 35 children was tested for literacy skills either one or two years later, that is, either in first or second grade.
Results: The group comparison of quantitative T1 measures revealed significantly higher T1 intensities in the left anterior arcuate fascicle (AF), suggesting reduced myelin concentration in preliterate children at risk of DD. A logistic regression showed that DD can be predicted significantly better (p=.024) when neuroanatomical differences between groups are used as predictors (80%) compared to a model based on behavioral predictors only (63%).The Wald statistic confirmed that the T1 intensity of the left AF is a statistically significant predictor of DD (p.05).
Conclusions: Our longitudinal results provide evidence for the hypothesis that neuroanatomical anomalies in children with a family risk of DD are related to subsequent problems in acquiring literacy. Particularly, solid white matter organization in the left anterior arcuate fascicle seems to play a pivotal role.